Age discrimination? Those of us in the staffing industry see our fair share. And although this bias is covert and unspoken, it is undeniable and certainly disconcerting.
HR professionals, hiring managers, and the organizations they work for need to be more creative and thoughtful in utilizing talent of all ages to synergize the workplace. Ignoring or discarding the rich experience and wisdom of our aging work force may one day lead to large voids of expertise and skill across many industries and markets.
When interviewing an older worker, those responsible for hiring should try changing their mind-set and looking at these candidates with a fresh perspective. After all, gray-haired candidates bring a lifetime’s worth of skill and experience to the table.
Here are 6 reasons why older, out-of-work workers are good for your business!
1) Older workers have a longer-term perspective: Unlike younger workers, who are using their first few job opportunities as stepping stones to their higher aspirations, older employees are in it for the long haul. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the median job tenure for workers in the 55 – 64 age range is about 3.3 times that of workers 25-34 years old. ” Since low turnover is a sign of engaged and productive workers, Older employees could be key to a thriving business.
2) Older workers have valuable industry connections: “It’s not what you know it’s WHO you know.” — it’s so true! Experienced professionals have the inside track on the best vendors, potential clients and even referrals for open positions within your company. These connections can help departments save time and save money, too!
3) Older workers support, guide and mentor their younger counterparts: With a wealth of knowledge and experience, cross-generational sharing can help jump start the effectiveness and success of the younger employees in an organization. They can learn from each other.
4) Older workers’ benefits do not cost any more than their younger counterparts: According to AARP, “The total number of sick days per year for older workers is lower than other age groups … they have fewer acute illnesses and occasional sick days. Health, disability, and life insurance costs may increase as workers get older, but they are offset by the lower costs of fewer dependents. Overall, the costs of fringe benefits stay the same as a percentage of salary for all age groups.” The Committee on Economic Development recently reported that employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance, and punctuality. All of these factors need to be considered when making a judgement based on the cost of hiring.
5) Older workers can hit the ground running: With years of experience behind them, older workers do not generally require a large “ramping up” period; they’ve most likely worked in an environment similar to the one they are stepping into. They have also lived through a variety of on-the-job shake-ups (downsizing, relocations, leadership changes, corporate crisis) and can certainly function in these situations. In fact, they may actually provide ideas and solutions for these and other business challenges.
6) Older workers may be more willing to negotiate: Think younger labor is cheaper? Maybe not! The long-term unemployed (meaning the older workers) are accepting jobs at substantially reduced salaries … when they need and want to work, baby boomers and beyond are taking lateral and lower pay. And, in some instances, older workers are choosing to enter a new phase of their career, preferring to downgrade their responsibility and stress-level while maintaining their productivity. It’s a mistake to think older workers have priced themselves out of the job market.
Perhaps this issue has broader implications, beyond HR and hiring managers. Maybe its time for our entire society to change its perception of aging and retirement. The key to accepting our older unemployed as viable job candidates is to realize that we are an aging society; one that is living longer and better. The productivity and contributions of our older workers could enhance the business world for years to come. It would be a shame for our economy and our society if we continue to turn our backs on this rich and abundant resource.
Please chime in on this crucial issue!!!
Gail Tolstoi-Miller is an award-winning entrepreneur, CEO, career coach and staffing strategist. Her companies, Consultnetworx and Speednetworx are focused on connecting people for mutual fit and success. The firms’ new division launching in June, Careernetworx, will provide job seekers with exclusive access to training portals and career coaching services. Sign up for the latest information. Gail’s first book, Networking Karma was released earlier this year and awarded Best Business Book by IndieReader. Please watch her newly released TEDx Talk here on Unconscious Bias in Hiring
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